Four Shippensburg University first-generation college students talked about their unique experiences in a panel held Nov. 6 during the First-Generation Celebration Week.
Luke Blank, an English education major, Cassidy Keiholtz, psychology major, Regina Yeung, political science major, and Dee Dee Floyd, an English education major, answered a series of questions about their experiences as first-generation students.
“Being a first-generation student comes with its struggles, but it goes to show how we can still persevere and go over that hill of struggles with the university backing me up and showing their support for me,” Yeung said.
Yeung and the other students shared how being a first-generation student definitely comes with its challenges but getting through those challenges is what matters. All the students listed types of challenges they faced, and praised the people in their lives who helped them overcome their struggles.
Blank talked about how his parents were against the idea of him going to college.
“My parents did everything that they could to tell me that the decision I was making was a horrible decision and that I was going to regret it,” Blank said. “On the other hand, my grand mom constantly calls me to let me know how proud she is of me, and that has done a lot to get me through my college experience.”
Blank said his high school guidance counselors greatly impacted his decision to go to college. According to Blank, they supported him through every decision and encouraged him to do what he feels is best for his life.
The student-panelists also discussed where they would see themselves had they not chosen to attend college.
Keiholtz said she would probably have either gone to community college or would have been stuck working at her hometown grocery store.
Floyd, who had always wanted to join a great marching band, said she would have gone to a Historically Black College or University. She has been accepted into several HBCUs but ultimately decided to go to SU instead.
The stuents also discussed what characteristics they were searching for in colleges.
For Floyd, her main priority was finding a university that could provide her with the “home away from home” feeling. She felt she needed to be comfortable with the school she chose to have a good college experience.
Keiholtz said she looked for a college closer to her home, while Yeung focused on a college with a strong program for her major. All the students also collectively agreed that cost was another major priority while college searching because they are all paying for their own tuition.
To close the panel, the students spoke about how they were proud of themselves and the journey they are on.